The accelerating rate of change in many fields of technology all manifest themselves in terms of human development, some of which can be accurately tracked within economic data. Contrary to what the media may peddle and despite periodic setbacks, average human prosperity is rising at a rate faster than any other time in human history. I have described this in great detail in prior articles, and I continue to be amazed at how little attention is devoted to the important subject of accelerating economic growth, even by other futurists.
The time has thus come for making specific predictions about the details of future economic advancement. I hereby present a speculative future timeline of economic events and milestones, which is a sibling article to Economic Growth is Exponential and Accelerating, v2.0.
2008-09 : A severe US recession and global slowdown still results in global PPP economic growth staying positive in calendar 2008 and 2009. Negative growth for world GDP, which has not happened since 1973, is not a serious possibility, even though the US and Europe experience GDP contraction in this period. The world GDP growth rate trendline resides at growth of 4.5% a year.
2010 : World GDP growth rebounds strongly to 5% a year. More than 3 billion people now live in emerging economies growing at over 6% a year. More than 80 countries, including China, have achieved a Human Development Index of 0.800 or higher, classifying them as developed countries.
2011 : Economic mismanagement in the US leads to a tax increase at the start of 2011, combined with higher interest rates on account of the budget deficit. This leads to a near-recession or even a full recession in the US, despite the recovery out of the 2008-09 recession still being young.
2012 : Over 2 billion people have access to unlimited broadband Internet service at speeds greater than 1 mbps, a majority of them receiving it through their wireless phone/handheld device.
2013 : Many single-family homes in the US, particularly in California, are still priced below the levels they reached at the peak in 2006, as predicted in early 2006 on The Futurist. If one adjusts for cost of capital over this period, many California homes have corrected their valuations by as much as 50%.
2014 : The positive deflationary economic forces introduced by the Impact of Computing are now large and pervasive enough to generate mainstream attention. The semiconductor and storage industries combined exceed $800 Billion in size, up from $450 Billion in 2008. The typical US household is now spending $2500 a year on semiconductors, storage, and other items with rapidly deflating prices per fixed performance. Of course, the items puchased for $2500 in 2014 can be purchased for $1600 in 2015, $1000 in 2016, $600 in 2017, etc.
2015 : As predicted in early 2006 on The Futurist, a 4-door sedan with a 240 hp engine, yet costing only 5 cents/mile to operate (the equivalent of 60 mpg of gasoline), is widely available for $35,000 (which is within the middle-class price band by 2015). This is the result of combined advances in energy, lighter nanomaterials, and computerized systems.
2016 : Medical Tourism introduces $200B/year of net deflationary benefit to healthcare costs in the US economy. Healthcare inflation is halted, except for the most advanced technologies for life extension.
2017 : China's per-capita GDP on a PPP basis converges with the world average, resulting in a rise in the Yuan exchange rate. This is neither good nor bad, but very confusing for trade calculations. A recession ensues while all the adjustments are sorted out.
2018 : Among new cars sold, gasoline-only vehicles are now a minority. Millions of vehicles are electrically charged through solar panels on a daily basis, relieving those consumers of a fuel expenditure that was as high as $3000 a year in 2008. Some electrical vehicles cost as little as 1 cent/mile to operate.
2019 : The Dow Jones Industrial Average surpasses 25,000. The Nasdaq exceeds 5000, finally surpassing the record set 19 years prior in early 2000.
2020 : World GDP per capita surpasses $15,000 in 2008 dollars (up from $8000 in 2008). Over 100 of the world's nations have achieved a Human Development Index of 0.800 or higher, with the only major concentrations of poverty being in Africa and South Asia. The basic necessities of food, clothing, literacy, electricity, and shelter are available to over 90% of the human race.
Trade between India and the US touches $400 Billion a year, up from only $32 Billion in 2006.
2022 : Several millon people worldwide are each earning over $50,000 a year through web-based activities. These activities include blogging, barter trading, video production, web-based retail ventures, and economic activites within virtual worlds. Some of these people are under the age of 16. Headlines will be made when a child known to be perpetually glued to his video game one day surprises his parents by disclosing that he has accumulated a legitimate fortune of more than $1 million.
2024 : The typical US household is now spending over $5000 a year on products and services that are affected by the Impact of Computing, where value received per dollar spent rises dramatically each year. These include electronic, biotechnology, software, and nanotechnology products. Even cars are sometimes 'upgraded' in a PC-like manner in order to receive better technology, long before they experience mechanical failure. Of course, the products and services purchased for this $5000 in 2024 can be obtained for $3200 in 2025, $2000 in 2026, $1300 in 2027, etc.
2025 : The printing of solid objects through 3-D printers is inexpensive enough for such printers to be common in upper-middle-class homes. This disrupts the economics of manufacturing, and revamps most manufacturing business models.
2027 : 90% of humans are now living in nations with a UN Human Development Index greater than 0.800 (the 2008 definition of a 'developed country', approximately that of the US in 1960). Many Asian nations have achieved per capita income parity with Europe. Only Africa contains a major concentration of poverty.
2030 : The United States still has the largest nominal GDP among the world's nations, in excess of $50 Trillion in 2030 dollars. China's economy is a close second to the US in size. No other country surpasses even half the size of either of the two twin giants.
The world GDP growth rate trendline has now surpassed 5% a year. As the per capita gap has reduced from what it was in 2000, the US now grows at 4% a year, while China grows at 6% a year.
10,000 billionaires now exist worldwide, causing the term to lose some exclusivity.
2032 : At least 2 TeraWatts of photovoltaic capacity is in operation worldwide, generating 8% of all energy consumed by society. Vast solar farms covering several square miles are in operation in North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Australia. These farms are visible from space.
2034 : The typical US household is now spending over $10,000 a year on products and services that are affected by the Impact of Computing. These include electronic, biotech, software, and nanotechnology products. Of course, the products and services purchased for this $10,000 in 2034 can be obtained for $6400 in 2035, $4000 in 2036, $2500 in 2037, etc.
2040 : Rapidly accelerating GDP growth is creating astonishing abundance that was unimaginable at the start of the 21st century. Inequality continues to be high, but this is balanced by the fact that many individual fortunes are created in extremely short times. The basic tools to produce wealth are available to at least 80% of all humans.
Greatly increased lifespans are distorting economics, mostly for the better, as active careers last well past the age of 80.
Tourism into space is affordable for upper middle class people, and is widely undertaken.
I believe that this timeline represents a median forecast for economic growth from many major sources, and will be perceived as too optimistic or too pessimistic by an equal number of readers. Let's see how closely reality tracks this timeline.